This variety lives in the shadow of its much more famous relatives Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.
Just as Pinot Gris has both a French and Italian name (Pinot Grigio) Pinot blanc has it's Italian name Pinot Bianco.
Other synonyms include Clevner, Chasselas Dorato, Borgogna bianco, Pineau blanc, Beli pinot, Weisser Rulander, Weisser Burgunder.
This variety is most often associated with the Alsace region in France as well as the Italian regions of Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, Friuli and Lombardy.
Pinot blanc is also quite widely grown in Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe. It is also used in the Pacific States of the United States.
Pinot Blanc bears some resemblance to Chardonnay in the vineyard but the wines tend to be lighter bodied and to have higher acid. This higher acidity is valued for making base wines for sparkling wines, and when Pinot blanc is blended with other varieties.
Varietal Pinot blancs are less common but they can be attractive crisp wines.
In Alsace the variety is used, often in blends with a variety called Auxerrois, to make light bodied white wines and also the local sparkling Cremant d'Alsace.
In Burgundy Pinot Blanc is permitted as a blending partner with Chardonnay but in practice it is rarely used.
Fine white wines are made from Pinot blanc in Italy's Alto Adige. Elsewhere in Italy's North East Pinot Grigio is preferred and Pinot blanc is relegated to a minor blending partner or to make base wines for Spumanti.
In Austria a rich sweet trockenbeerenauslese wine is made under the name Wiessburgunder.
This variety is not popular in Australia. None of the enthusiasm for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris has rubbed off onto it. But every variety has a few enthusiasts and champions - among grapegrowers, winemakers and consumers.
Franco D'Anna is one such fan of Pinot Blanc and he has written a short piece about the variety for the Australian Alternatives Variety Wine Show's blog.
...the variety won’t be the saviour of the wine industry
[but] will become more popular as winemakers and consumers move away from fruit rich styles of white wine and more towards textural, mineral and terrior driven wines.
You can read Franco's full story here.
While this variety is often cast into the role of a minor blending partner it is also used to make some interesting varietal wines.
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